Carson City Saloon plans reopening following increased police presence on Pittsburgh’s South Side

PITTSBURGH — A popular bar in the South Side is reopening after temporarily shutting down because of violence and drug activity along East Carson Street.

Carson City Saloon announced its opening back up on Sept. 7 after being closed for two months.

“I’m not 100% happy because there’s still some criminal behavior on the streets, but it has improved dramatically,” Brian Vetere said.

Vetere is one of the owners of Carson City Saloon, a popular sports bar at the corner of 14th and East Carson Streets that’s been around for nearly two decades.

“Last summer was terrible and this summer was even worse,” Vetere said. “So it just came to the point where my staff was scared to death to come in.”

He says for the last two months, while his bar’s been closed, he’s been driving up and down Carson Street on weekends.

“There’s been 20-25 officers down here, and there’s been zero shootings and stabbings that I’ve even heard of,” Vetere said. “So it can help. It obviously does work.”

Pittsburgh police started saturating the South Side at the beginning of July from Thursday night until Sunday morning. Business owners also created a group called the South Side Hospitality Partnership that meets with police every other week.

“After the last two years, where we’ve experienced some challenges on East Carson Street, the community has come together in a way that they have not before,” said South Side Community Council President Barbara Rudiak. “As residents, we are now working with bar owners because we do want the same thing, we want a vibrant East Carson Street.”

Barbara Rudiak was born and raised in the South Side. She still lives in the neighborhood.

“I would say that I’m not happy with the current state,” Rudiak said. “I think that goes back to a number of years ago. 10-12 years ago. When we started seeing the lack of paid staff to support our Main Street, our business district. So in a sense, it was only a matter of time when we would see what we’re seeing now with a proliferation of bars and a decrease in number of businesses that are here, and we are really working to make sure that there’s a change.”

With an even larger police presence plus other businesses, besides bars, coming into the neighborhood, Rudiak believes the South Side is bouncing back.

“Knowing that there is a police presence and that those who are here not to enjoy themselves in the bars and on East Carson will realize that they may need to go somewhere else,” Rudiak said. “That’s what we’re hoping for, and I think we’ve been seeing some of that. And we just hope that all of that continues.”

Rudiak pointed out there are so many positives happening in the South Side — such as garden and home tours, Neighbor Night and Community Yard Sales. She says all the good gets overshadowed by the bad.

“When people come in, and they go into the gardens,” said Rudiak. “They go into the homes. And then they’re walking around South Side questioning that they heard it’s not safe here, but they’re finding that it really is a vibrant community.”

The next Neighbor Night is on September 19. Again, Carson City Saloon is set to reopen on September 7th at 7 p.m.

“Let’s clean up the South Side and get it back to normal,” said Vetere. “We hope to see the crowds come back, and we’re excited about it.”

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